A Gauteng manufacturer of combined road and rail vehicles is proposing a solution to the public transport problems experienced by poor people in rural and peri-urban areas. In SA, the onset of large cities growing into each other, or conurbation, has led to poor communities spending long times on travel and disproportionate amounts of money on essential travel. The effect this has on the economy is underscored in a new World Bank report, which cites limited or expensive transport connectivity as a contributory factor to poverty and inequality. The company, RailPro, has developed what it calls a bi-modal vehicle that transports people and goods on road and rail. It has named the vehicle RailBus. Its salient feature is a South African-invented drive system fitted to an ordinary road-going, diesel-powered lorry (typically eight tonnes), which powers retractable rail wheels when needed. RailPro envisages the deployment of its RailBus on about 4,000km of SA’s 9,000km of largely unused br...

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